Summertown Road came together with the melding of parts of two traditional bands, and their sound is a tribute and extension, in many ways, of the groups’ collective history. Two years after forming they have released their first Rounder record with their selftitled debut. Now, as often happens during the summer band shuffle, only two members of the recording band are still with the group. While guitarist and vocalist Bo Isaacs and bassist Randy Thomas continue on as Summertown Road, they are joined on this recording by Jonathan Rigsby on vocals, mandolin, and fiddle, Jack Hicks on banjo, and produced by Don Rigsby.
Nine of the album’s 14 songs were written or cowritten by band members. The five remaining songs fit seamlessly in to the traditional style of the group and come from writers Tom T. and Dixie Hall, Tony Arata, Karen Kouns, and Brantley C. George. Particular standouts are the bands current single, the swinging kissoff “If I Win,” where no matter the outcome, the protagonist is “better off without you.” A great story song of heroism and responsibility is “Two Medals,” while “Right Back To The Start” is the story of a man catching his train out of town. “Fiddlin’ John,” written about the band’s own Jonathan Rigsby, allows Rigsby to really showcase his excellent playing. Keeping pace on this song, as well as throughout the album, is Hicks’ driving banjo playing. Both men’s playing harkens back to the driving pairups of the early days of bluegrass. (Rounder Records, One Rounder Way, Burlington, MA 01803, www.rounder.com.) CEB